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Song Stories

“Hoochie Coochie Man”

Muddy Waters | 1954

One of the many classic songs written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy Waters, "Hoochie Coochie Man" is a song that every blues guitarist and singer attempts to tackle. Not that they'd ever approach the primal sex appeal and groove of Waters and his classic early electric band. Waters' own band couldn't even do it in the 1970s: "I have to get in there with my guitar and try and bring it down to me," he explained. "But no sooner than I quit playing, it goes back to another different sound."

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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